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The ToyDirectory MOM
By Hollie Bethany

Safety is Not a Four Letter Word

The safe use and design of toys may start at the drawing board, but it must end at the home or childcare facility.

My child acts  insane. There, I can admit it. Unfortunately, there are many other parents who will not admit it or do not know it. Because of the litigious society we live in, retailers and manufacturers have to try to tap into the minds of these maniac kids before releasing new products to the market, and parents have to accept their responsibility for the safe use of toys.

Manufacturers have design teams that come up with cool new things to tempt your kiddies. They design it, build a prototype, and then run it through testing to meet safety standards. Some even put their toys through hands-on kids testing, which is a good way to find the dangers of “wild child” use.

After a toy is released, some retailers and parents look on the safety standards approval as a go that everything is fine. But, oh, that is where danger lurks.

Retailers who offer “play areas” for the testing of a new toy are doing the right thing. In this area, the parent and perhaps a “play consultant” should be focusing on how the child interacts with the toy. If my little Hunter is constantly misusing the toy in a way that could cause injury to him or another, the “play consultant” should attempt to offer the parent an alternative toy designed for parent-child interaction. It’s a hard place to be in as a retailer; you do not want to say, “Hey your kid is a freak”. Okay maybe you WANT to say it and maybe you should say it, but don’t.

Parents who do interact with their children when they play will usually be the first to admit their child tends to try to find the danger in a toy. Parents who think meeting safety standards means there is no need for supervision may not even realize what their child’s play habits are. By suggesting toys that require parent-child interaction, the retailer is filling an important link in the chain of safety.

Parents, you know what I’m going to say here, right? Yes, it is important for children to have some independence in play, BUT you should still be involved. Be a playmate in the game, or a silent observer. Get to know your child’s play habits and then you can choose toys safely matching those tendencies as well as placing them for “un-hospital-trip-eventful” use.

Oops, have to go. 

~ Happy Playing! ~

Just the Facts:

Name: Hollie Bethany AKA The ToyDirectory MOM
Education: MBA International Economics and Marketing, Augusta State University
Toy Industry Experience: Ty Europe, GyGy Inc., Aquatat.com, SunKids
Child: Hunter, age 2 ½, thinks he is a stunt man.
About my column: A sometimes humorous toy industry/business issues perspective as tainted by the eyes of a mother.


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